Embargoed! continues “to punch above its weight”

Embargoed! returned a new committee and heard about the group’s progress to lift the isolation on North Cyprus at its Annual General Meeting on Monday 26 July. During a packed session at a central London venue, chair Fevzi Hussein informed members how the group continues “to punch above its weight”, undertaking a range of activities on limited human and financial resources. The group have travelled to Brussels and Warsaw to lobby dignitaries, hosted property seminars in the House of Lords and London School of Economics, helped secure punishment of Apoel Nicosia for racism, and contributed to biased British MP Andrew Dismore losing his Parliamentary seat.

Embargoed!’s committee and active members highlighted the key activities for the past 12 months. The group again presented at OSCE, an international human rights convention in Warsaw, which was attended by diplomats from 55 countries including the USA and Russia. The group’s comments about ‘Turkish Cypriots living under apartheid conditions’ were picked up and circulated by global anti-racism bodies and Embargoed! was invited to send a report about the issues faced, which have been included in the body’s annual report.

Following on from the massive interest in the Orams case, the group held a Solidarity Vigil outside the British High Court in November to lend support to the Oramses. In March, following the landmark Demopoulos Ruling which validated the North’s Immovable Property Commission (IPC), the group hosted property seminars in London where a prestigious panel from North Cyprus addressed members of the British Upper Chamber and ordinary citizens. The events ended with a call for South Cyprus to create a parallel IPC to help resolve property disputes fairly, while a Factsheet and the seminar presentations have been sent to British politicians and citizens concerned about the issue.

The group’s ongoing campaign to prevent hate crime resulted in it complaining to FIFA for the racist actions of Apoel Nicosia FC and its supporters against Chelsea in September. The club was punished with a €40,000 fine from FIFA in December. The organisation also campaigned against biased British MP Andrew Dismore at the UK General Elections in May, contacting 300 Turkish voters in his constituency. Mr Dismore lost his seat by 65 votes.

A more recent campaign the group has launched in conjunction with the UK and TRNC Cyprus Turkish Chambers of Commerce is ‘Trade Not Aid’. It included developing a Factsheet and a trip to Brussels to meet MEPs. The early responses to Embargoed! are that the bulk of British MEPs are ready to support direct trade with North Cyprus.

Embargoed! has launched E! TV, where regular short broadcasts covering the campaign will be aired via its new website, www.embargoed.org, which is being launched on 5 August 2010. E! TV has footage from Warsaw, the Orams Vigil, and an interview with the legendary Jesse Jackson.

For the first time in its six year history, the group has also stepped into internal TRNC affairs, speaking out on the collapse of the national carrier Cyprus Turkish Airlines. It has set up an umbrella body, the CTA UK Action Group, to support affected UK staff and customers. 29 other organisations have signed up to this group. In addition, Embargoed! has pledged to act over the injustices faced by the Kulaksiz 5, a group of British residents who face losing their homes in Karsiyaka due to discrepancies in the TRNC’s land registry and banking systems. The group believes these two issues are pivotal to the TRNC’s international reputation and without a fair resolution, will hamper Embargoed!’s ability to lobby for the end of the isolation.

The full details of the group’s 2009-10 activities, as presented in the AGM, have been detailed in its Annual Report. The document will be available on the Resources section of the group’s new website, www.embargoed.org.

The group’s three new Executive Council members, Fevzi Hussein(Chair), Emel Djevdet (Secretary), and Cahit Akin (Treasurer), were all returned unopposed. It was decided that the Community Relations Officer role, previously held by Ismail Veli, would not be filled and instead the group would continue to be served by volunteers co-opted onto its Working Committees.

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